7-year-old Ariz. boy swims from Alcatraz to S.F. - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

7-year-old Ariz. boy swims from Alcatraz to S.F.

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Posted: Monday, May 22, 2006 12:29 pm | Updated: 3:08 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

SAN FRANCISCO - A 7-year-old Arizona boy completed an estimated 1.4-mile swim from Alcatraz Island to the city's Aquatic Park early Monday. Braxton Bilbrey's coach and two other adults joined him in the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay.

He was greeted at the finish by reporters, photographers and well-wishers.

"I think it's pretty cool," Braxton said shortly after his father grabbed him under the arms and lifted him out of the water.

When asked what he wanted to do next, Braxton said he hoped to swim the English Channel.

Stacey Bilbrey originally wasn't sold on the idea of her son swimming from Alcatraz, but she accepted it once he proved he was dedicated to his goal.

"For a 7-year-old to be that motivated and stick with a goal that long is amazing," she said.

Alcatraz, once a notorious federal prison that housed some of the nation's infamous criminals, including Chicago mobster Al Capone, is now a tourist site that attracts about 1 million visitors a year. It also draws a fair share of swimmers who attempt the crossing as part of the annual Escape from Alcatraz triathlon.

The second-grader from Glendale, got the idea when he saw a magazine story about a 9-year-old boy who made the swim. Johnny Wilson, a fourth grader from Hillsborough completed the swim in 53-degree waters last October.

Braxton, who has completed several short-scale youth triathlons, then asked his swim coach if he could do it.

"If you were to ask me if a 7-year-old is old enough to do it, I'd say maybe one out of 10 million," coach Joe Zemaitis said. "But he's that one."

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